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If Aloha Utilities overcharged for electricity, some Pasco residents could get refunds

HOLIDAY — State regulators are still trying to determine if former water company Aloha Utilities overcharged customers for streetlight services.

Aloha had paid Progress Energy for the electricity and then billed thousands of west Pasco residents, including many in Tahitian Gardens and Tiki Village, for the service.

The Florida Public Service Commission, after receiving a complaint from state Sen. Mike Fasano's office, began looking into this question in November:

Did Aloha charge customers more than it pays for the services from Progress Energy?

If it did, then the company could be in violation of state law: Companies that resell at a profit are considered electric utilities subject to full regulation by the commission. Residents who paid the fees could be eligible for refunds.

Aloha Utilities sold its water and wastewater services to a governmental authority a year ago but continued billing for street lighting in some neighborhoods.

In October, the former utility's principals — Lynnda Speer and Stephen Watford — filed documents with the state division of corporations to change the company's name to MMLJ Holdings.

Aloha representatives could not be reached Wednesday.

Public Service Commission attorney Curt Kiser told Fasano, a longtime Aloha critic, in an e-mail Wednesday that his staff had trouble getting documentation from the company. And the documentation it did get sheds little light on the matter.

He wrote that Aloha is in the process of turning over its billing arrangement to Progress Energy and the homeowners association.

"We will issue subpoenas if necessary to get the information and determine if refunds are due," Kiser wrote.

Fasano urged Kiser to keep pushing — or else turn the matter over to the Florida attorney general's office for an investigation.

"Aloha will delay and delay until they drain you dry," Fasano wrote. "Don't let them get away with it."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

If Aloha Utilities overcharged for electricity, some Pasco residents could get refunds 02/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 9:00pm]
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